Eddie Durham, a foundation in Jazz


Eddie Durham
Date: 
Sun, 1906-08-19

*Eddie Durham was born on this date in 1906. He was an African American musician, composer and inventor.

From San Marcos, Texas, he was the son of Joe Durham who played the fiddle at square dances. Young Durham’s oldest brother, Joe played cello briefly with Nat King Cole, took correspondence lessons and in turn taught Eddie and his other brothers to read and notate music. Together with cousins Allen and Clyde Durham, Durhams and his brother Roosevelt formed the Durham Brothers Band around 1920. They were later joined in Dallas by another cousin, Herschel Evans a tenor saxophonist.

Durham also played trombone and invented, amplified and played electric guitar. His magic as a musician, arranger and composer provided the pedestal of compositions and arrangements imperative to the survival of such many band leaders. He wrote and/or arranged for Bennie Moten, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Harry James, Artie Shaw, Andy Kirk, Jan Savitt, Willie Bryant, The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Billie Holiday Glenn Miller and others. Durham's 'amplified guitar' recordings predate the debut of Charlie Christian by one year, whom Durham mentored. The sessions were for John Hammond where he recorded the Kansas City Five sessions featuring the electric guitar.

He won the American Poll for his guitar solo on "Honey Keep Your Mind on Me" (Lunceford); he is inducted into both the NARAS and American Jazz Hall of Fame. Durham appeared in films "Born to Swing" and "Last of the Blue Devils". His compositions include Topsy (co-written with Edgar Battle), Good Morning Blues, Swingin the Blues, Sent for You Yesterday (co-written with Basie), I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire, Lafayette, Wham! Re Bop Boom Bam, Sliphorn Jive, Luncefords Special, Glenn Island Special, Johns Idea, Magic Carpet (and unaccredited for Motens Swing and One O’clock Jump).

Durham's Arrangements include Glenn Miller's Bluebird recording of "In The Mood". In the 1940s Durham organized his own band, directed an all-girl orchestra. During the 1950s and 1960s he performed less and traveled abroad. In the 1980s Durham toured Europe with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. He died in New York City on March 6, 1987.

Reference:
University of Texas Libraries,
The University of Texas at Austin,
Post Office Box P,
Austin, TX 78713-8916.

Image: Jimmy Jewell,
Kansas City Museum,
Kansas City, Mo.

To Become a Musician or Singer

Person / name: 

Durham, Eddie

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